Chet stared at his hands. On each of his
ten fingers there were lines where knuckles were placed. He admired, in turn,
his metacarpophalangeal joints, his proximal interphalangeal joints, and his
distal interphalangeal joints.
When he was eight years old, he had
taken up the oboe and had continued with that lovely instrument until the
middle of his undergraduate days. All things being unequal, he had been a poor
musician. Even his extraordinarily long digits had not helped him stay in tune
with any of his schools orchestras.
Did you hear me? Im telling
you life-changing news!
Chets father, unlike Chet, had
been a talented oboist who had been forced to give up his beloved hautboy to
earn money through set design. Set design paid; woodwind quintet did
I cant believe youre
ignoring me. What type of husband are you? Dorothy began to
She wrapped the sofa throw around her,
but only after pulling it out from under Chet.
Even though his father had had to stop
playing the modern shawm, that man had urged that instrument upon Chet. He had
also, albeit indirectly, taught his son about proportion, color, line, texture,
shape, and more.
Consequently, Chets appreciation
of the arts extended beyond aural expressions to visual ones. During his
adolescence, Chet learned to discern among velvet and velour and to inspect
lace for its degree of delicateness. Whereas Chet earned his income editing
technical documents, his passion remined fashion.
I hate you! Dorothy
whimpered a bit more and then fell into a deep sleep.
Chet nodded at his wife, having
rubricked her emotional outburst as hormone-driven. There would be three
trimesters, or, more accurately, two and change, to discuss the impending
impact of their child on their lives.
After Chets mom had died, his
father had not remarried. Rather, he sufficed with unbounded flirting, with a
massive collection of recordings of oboe music, and with being regarded as a
Withersmith trotted in, sniffed Chet,
and then sniffed Dorothy. He jumped up onto the sofa, which was an amazing act,
given his short legs, and nestled on top of her. Soon, he was drooling almost
as much as his mistress.
Chets father had written copious
amounts of poetry, nonetheless, he had had only a single assemblage published.
Whats more, he had demurred when asked if he had hired a vanity
Rudford waddled into the living room.
Chet placed his hand, palm up, on the floor to allow that hedgehog to be lifted
to the sofa. The urchin was skittish, but there was no harm in offering it a
Withersmith opened one eye to regard his
prickly brother and just as quickly shut it.
Rudford curled up into a spiny ball on
Dorothys other side. He did not like cuddling with Withersmith. He did
not like drool.
Three days, two bouquets of flowers,
which had, in succession, been thrown at him, and an expensive subscription to
The Journal of World Intellectual Property, later, Chet had been forgiven. He
still was troubled by the idea that he was becoming a father. Dorothy, however,
had no problem regularly reminding him that she was becoming a
To wit, between midnight and one in the
morning, daily, for weeks, she asked Chet to source anchovies. He had taken to
relying on the neighborhood tavern, which also sold pizzas. No grocery stores
were open during those hours. Additionally, Chet had had to daily
confer with Mr. Henry as Dorothy had insisted that pregnant women
ought to stay far away from litter boxes.
Mr. Henry had not been amused by the
behaviors of his manservant. The cat had hissed every time that Chet approached
with a poop scooper and had howled every week when the litter, itself was
Beyond litter duties, Chet was now in
charge of spring cleaning as not only the smell of coffee or of eggs made
Dorothy barf, but so, too, did getting within feet of the cleaning supplies
closet. Instead of enjoying his favorite breakfast, Chet spent most mornings
fighting dust bunnies, admiring cobwebs, wiping away bathroom-sourced molds and
mildew, vacuuming and mopping.
Once a week, he treated himself to
bagels at a shop within walkable distance. It was tough not to be able to brew
joe in his own home.
Nancy Lynn was a regular visitor. The
tyke almost always came with a basket of food cooked by her mother. While
Dorothy objected to Chets scrambleds, she adored her neighbors
gifts of quiches and of frittatas. Most of ten, shed eat an entire pie or
loaf by herself, burp up awful gas, and then smile at Chet concurrent with
claiming that at least her neighbor cared about their childs
Their little visitors favorite
pastime was looking, with Dorothy, at pictures of womens innards.
Chets wife had ordered, online, a few dozen books on pregnancy and
childbirth. Although it was shocking that she labor in their home, it was that
much more staggering that she felt talking about the birds and the bees to a
young girl was not an issue.
Chet couldnt understand why Nancy
Lynns mother didnt object until he remembered both that she worked
as a nurse and that she was on the board of the local Waldorf school.
Certainly, when Chet had come of age, his father had subjected him to no such
lurid pictures. Plus, Nancy Lynn was hardly of age.
When Dorothy achieved her second
trimester, that is, when she began her fourth month of gestation, Chet feted
her by purchasing another pricy subscription, one to The World Intellectual
Property Organization Journal; he didnt want to be hit over the head,
again, with roses or carnations. He figured, as well, he could safely purchase
a subscription to Cybaris for Dorothys third trimester present and could
gift his lovely partner with a subscription to The Harvard Journal of Law and
Technology as a push present.
I hate you! You dont care
about me, about our animals, about our home, or about our babys
Tough day at
No. I mean yes. Of
course, yes. They dont understand pregnant
I thought one of the partners had
Hi Withersmith, come to Mommy.
Daddys a jerk.
The dachshund faithfully shuffled to
Chet, youre a logical
I need a man with more of a
hermeneutic approach to life.
and I need you to make me
some French fries smothered in peanut butter and a bowl of gelatin with heated
Yes, Dear. Have you had your urine
checked recently? I hope your kidney function
Yes, Dear. Snackies coming right
For comfort, Chet had taken to wearing
his tuxedo shirt around the apartment. Even when he was washing and drying
dishes, reorganizing closets, dusting off books, or moving furniture (Dorothy
insisted on nesting at least twice a week), he treated himself to
that garment. Plus, he had surreptitiously ordered a replacement shirt, online,
to wear to their childs birth.
Unfortunately, Mr. Henry had articulated
his displeasure with Chets service by spraying Chets favorite
ascot. That piece of cashmere goodness was too expensive to immediately
replace. Chet would have to make do at the forthcoming festivities with
In between editing white papers and user
manuals, Chet mopped the bathroom, the kitchen, and the sun porch, emptied all
of the garbage cans, soaked the cat and dogs toys in a tub of soapy
water, and patched the screens. When he had suggested that they ask for a
housekeeper or baby nurse as baby gifts, he had not been thinking of
One day, Rudford waddled up to Chet.
Without the benefit of coffee, the technical editor and writer was pushing
himself to stay awake until he reached the end of the document on his screen.
That the little bush pig had entered his workspace gave Chet new vitality. In
no time at all he completed his task.
When he bent to pick up the little
prickly guy, though, the thing threw up on him. A panicked Dorothy insisted
that Chet take her delightful small familiar immediately to the vet.
Weighing his wifes shouting
against the resources involved in driving roundtrip, waiting in the companion
area, and then bravely holding Rudford sufficiently still to be examined, Chet
quickly grabbed the cat carrier, the hedgehog, the car keys, and his
When he had at last returned, Dorothy
was again asleep on the sofa with Mr. Henry curled up by her head. A to
do list, penned by her hand, awaited him on the living room
Despite the fact that Chet had
intentionally omitted cleaning Mr. Henrys litter box that week, Dorothy
had underscored that item on her list. Sighing, Chet donned his balaclava
and a pair of cooking mitts. Both items were more washable than his face and
hands were resistant to Mr. Henrys claws.
Upon discovering that Chet had completed
more than half of the requests on her list, Dorothy could not stop praising her
husband. The more that she lauded him, the more that she cried.
Youre the best husband in
Thats why you married
I mean it.
Wait! You didnt tell me
Im the best wife.
You know it,
Do not. You hate me. I hate
Dorothy snatched Mr. Henry and, slamming
the door behind her, sobbed on her and Chets bed.
Chets wife cried even more the
next day when she had returned from work. Her best friend, Aviv, a
buddy from law school who worked in corporate law and who hid neither tattoos
nor piercings under her work clothes, had given Dorothy the side eye when the
two of them had met at a lunch place.
All I did was ask for and eat a
bowl of pitted olives. How can she be so cruel? How can anyone be so cruel? The
world is cruel.
Okay, maybe she got huffy not
after the first bowl, but after the third.
What did your nutritionist or your
midwife say about your salt cravings?
I hate you. All you care about is
science. No wonder youre a science writer. To boot, youd never make
it in literature. Your poetry stinks
Once more, Dorothy locked their bedroom
door behind her and cried herself to sleep on their bed. She emerged less than
an hour later as she was very hungry and she had finished all three boxes of
crackers that Chet had placed in their bedroom, for her, that
Low blood sugar? I think the
Shut up! I still hate
Would you order pizza with
pineapple for me? Please make it a large with extra cheese and double spinach,
While the deliverys en
route, would you make me scrambled eggs with cherry jam?
I thought eggs made you
Can I return to making coffee,
Dorothy easily ate her extra-large pie.
Chet ate his small one, quietly.
He told himself that friends like Aviv
were above suspicion, since they, themselves, had never been pregnant or had
benefitted from the on-the-job training that Chet was enduring. Besides, Chet
no more wanted to confront one of Dorothys girlfriends than he wanted to
face down Mr. Henry. Maybe, his bride would forget the incident.
He reached to pat Dorothys hand,
at the same time as saying, I love you very much. I feel sad that you
feel ill. I wish I could snap my fingers and magic away other peoples
Dorothy began shredding her pizzas
empty box. She made pointed airplanes from that cardboard and flung each of
them at Chet. After four had hit him, he retired to their bedroom. He did not
lock the door.
Withersmith wandered in. He nuzzled the
only part of Chet that he could reach; Chets legs were dangling off of
Well, friendly, furry sausage, I
know my poetry rots, but it would be nice for my wife to pretend otherwise. Is
it really so difficult to be pregnant?
Withersmith looked up as far as he could
see, which was Chets knees. He whimpered and then sat down, resting his
head on Chets feet. He wagged his tail in reply.